Hicks’ two touchdowns lead RMU football to first win since 2019

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Photo by Tyler Gallo

George Martin smiles after his two-point conversion to put the Colonials up six late in the fourth quarter.

By Robert Bradley, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP– RMU football (1-1) defeated a non-conference opponent in the Howard Bison (0-4) at Joe Walton Stadium in their home opener Friday. The Colonials had not played at “The Joe” in 671 days.

The Robert Morris defense started strong on the Bison’s first offensive drive causing a turnover on downs after the Bison drove down to the Colonials 19-yard line. Similarly, on the Colonials’ first offensive drive, Howard forced RMU to punt the ball after minimal offense by the Colonials.

The defensive battle continued throughout the first quarter, especially when RMU’s Lorenzo Euline covered a lot of ground to make a sideline interception at the 50-yard line. Robert Morris’ offense only ran a few short-yardage plays before the end of the quarter. Both defenses controlled the first quarter, as the Colonials and Bison were knotted up 0-0 at the quarter’s end.

At the start of the second quarter, Euline’s interception set up the Colonial offense beautifully; George Martin completed an 18-yard pass to Jaylon Brown, which got the Colonials in the red zone.

After a short run four-yard run by Alijah Jackson, the Colonials reached the end zone off a George Martin quarterback sneak up the gut. Martin’s TD gave the Colonials a 7-0 lead. Head coach Bernard Clark mentioned the team’s turnaround in the second quarter.

“The thing is when we started, we weren’t tackling very well, as the game went along we started tackling better, and once we started tackling better, we were able to slow them down.”

After the touchdown, the Colonials defense shut down the Bison offense once more forcing a three-and-out emphatically with a sack coming from Garrett Fairman and Aniello Buzzacco on third-and-nine.

After the Bison punted, their offense found its groove with a 15-yard reverse play. This gave Howard a first down at the Colonials’ 12-yard line. On the next play, Quinton Williams threw a 12-yard dart to Tayshaun Porter for a Howard Bison touchdown which, after the extra point, tied the score at 7.

Shortly thereafter, the Colonials struck back. A majority of the drive consisted of runs from Alijah Jackson and Jonathan Wynn. Martin capped off the drive with a majestic 43-yard touchdown bomb to D’Andre Hicks, who Mossed the defender to give the Colonials a 14-7 lead. This would be the first of two touchdowns for Hicks.

After Hicks’ score, the Colonials defense recorded two sacks, one from Garrett Fairman and the other from Ricardo Watson. After regaining possession, the Bison offense kneeled to end the half with RMU leading by a score of 14-7.

The Colonials’ Jordan Johnson received the second-half kickoff, setting the RMU offense up at their 35-yard line. Following a run-heavy attack including runs from Jackson, Wynn and Martin, the Bison defense stopped the Colonials’ drive and Nick Bisceglia missed a 38-yard.

After the missed field goal attempt, the Bison offense drove down the field, capping their drive off with a three-yard touchdown run by Quinton Williams. However, the RMU defense did not take the score lightly, blocking Howard’s PAT attempt and keeping the narrow lead at 14-13.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the RMU defense shut down the Howard drive but gave up the lead after a 27-yard field goal was made by Howard’s Faraji Woodson. Trailing for the first time in the game 16-14, the RMU offense knew they needed to shift the narrative of a defense-controlled game.

RMU’s offense finished the six-minute drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Martin to Hicks to help the Colonials regain the lead. With three minutes left and a 22-16 lead, the RMU defense needed to be a brick wall to secure their first victory at Joe Walton for the first time in 671 days.

D’Andre Hicks picked up a pair of touchdowns in the win. (Photo by Ethan Morrison)

The Colonials defense performed as they did for the majority of the game, causing Bison quarterback Quinton Williams to overthrow his target on fourth down. The turnover on downs was the nail in the coffin for Howard, as the Colonials’ offense ran out the rest of the clock, securing a 22-16 victory.

Bernard Clark knew it was nice to win, but noted that they were on to the next game after a 24-hour celebration period.

“I’m happy we won. We have got to relish in victories. They aren’t easy to get, but against a good team like that, they are going against a reputable opponent, so we are excited to get the victory.”

D’Andre Hicks, who scored two touchdowns in the game, remarked on what it was like to win in front of the home crowd.

“It was exciting to get back. The first two weeks were a struggle with COVID and the adversity it caused,” Hicks said. “It was exciting to have the entire team back and to be able to compete. We didn’t panic, we knew ourselves, and when it came down to it, we were competing against ourselves.”

Alijah Jackson led the Colonials in rushing with 107 rushing yards on 26 carries, and Hicks led the team with 61 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. The RMU defense recorded six sacks and an interception in total with their stellar performance.

The Colonials will travel to Greensboro, North Carolina next week to take on North Carolina A&T and open their Big South slate.